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Susan Pinkney

E: research@cafonline.org


We’ve started to see some changes in giving behaviour during Covid-19

15 May 2020

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what the British public were intending to give to in the next 3 months as a result of Covid-19, and we saw that NHS and local charities came out on top, followed by national charities and lagging quite a bit behind were international charities.

We’ve now been able to mine our monthly UK Giving data to see what people had done in the previous few weeks. What we’ve found is that charitable giving in the UK has shifted dramatically towards support for ‘hospitals and hospices’ in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. We’re fortunate that we’ve been tracking UK household giving patterns every month for the past four years now. In the four weeks leading up to 20 April, 35% of people who had given to charity in the past four weeks had given to this cause area – the highest level we have seen for any month over those four years and a large jump from the long term average of 21%.

Effect of cause support shifts

This area is always one of the top causes given to by the British public but we’ve never seen it at this level. The big question now is whether this shift is affecting other causes that people give to, at least, in the short term? Well, the answer is yes. The polling shows that  the number of people giving money to children’s causes and animal welfare in particular has dropped in the same period.

Animal charities have seen the number of people making donations in the prior four weeks fall to just 23% of donors in April, down from 31% in March, while donors supporting children’s charities has declined to 18% in April, well below the long term average of 26%.

Not only have hospitals increased in terms of the number of people giving to them but we also have a section on the survey where people can select and state an ‘Other’ cause area that they have supported. Here we saw respondents singling out NHS charities, donating to feed NHS staff and supporting Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising drive as examples of how they were donating their money.

In addition to the big increase in money going to hospitals and the NHS, the survey also found that despite economic uncertainty and worries about job security felt by many across the country, overall levels of giving to charity has remained high, with 34% of people saying they had donated to charity in the past four weeks – up significantly from March (30%). It’s too early for us to see how much money people have given and whether that has shifted but there are clear indications that at least in the short-term there has been a shift in the causes being supported.

This research is based on polling of 1,105 people carried out by YouGov between April 20-23.

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